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Community Cares Spotlight Blog #7 - Sertoma Club

Chuck Roach, President-Elect of the Broad Ripple Sertoma Club

This week, we spoke with Chuck Roach, President-Elect of the Broad Ripple Sertoma Club.

Sertoma International is a service organization, founded in 1912. Sertoma is an acronym for “Service to Mankind”. The Sertoma Club of Broad Ripple was chartered in 1958 and is now the largest club in the Nation at 134 members.The Sertoma Club of Broad Ripple is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to Serving Mankind through the fundraising efforts of Casino Parties that the club conducts year round.

Written by Braden Worrell

What is the Sertoma Club mission and how do casino parties support that mission? 

We’re a unique organization in that we've been around since 1958 and our main mission is to raise funds that we can turn around and give away to charities. We're not an organization that gets together socially to market businesses or our own business, instead we're looking for members who want to have fun, enjoy meeting and interacting with new people, and at the same time provide an opportunity for many charities to do some things that they could not typically do otherwise. There are over 800 clubs throughout the country, but we're one that has the unique way of generating funds through our casino parties. There aren't too many other clubs that approach the Sertoma Club mission in that way.

The casino gaming started shortly after our club was founded and was simply entertainment for the members at first. It went over so well that members started building upon the idea. It has done nothing but get bigger and bigger. The Broad Ripple Club has about 40 portable tables and gaming equipment and can now entertain parties of 70 to over 400 people. This past year we did about 45 Casino Parties and have had $140,000 dollars come in for charities. Since the Club’s inception we’ve given away $2.7 million dollars and we’ve had a lot of fun doing so.

How did the Broad Ripple Sertoma Club get involved with IBCF?

We have a sponsor committee of 10-12 people who identify groups for potential financial support. This committee asks these groups to present at Club meetings and share more about their mission and work. Around 2016, IBCF Executive Director, Laura Alvarado, gave a presentation to us one day about programs at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and shared more about the students’ needs. I think the thing that impacted me, and many of our members, was learning about the sensory approach to enhancing the students’ education and their learning process.

We have a lot of educators in our group, I was formerly the Principal of North Central High School here in Indianapolis. I think a lot of us were very interested in learning more about how the school is exploring technology and adding to the repertoire of educational tools being provided to the children. An interest of the National Sertoma Organization is in students who have difficulty hearing. I think because of that particular approach it was a natural progression into seeing what we could do with students and adults with visual impairments as well. The conversations with Laura have made an incredible impact on our group. We decided IBCF was an organization that we wanted to consider giving funds.

Today, we’ve done four Casino Parties at the annual Through the Looking Glass Gala. We provide blackjack, roulette tables, craps tables, Caribbean poker and Texas Hold ’em. We’re not pushing gambling because there is no money involved, we just provide chips that you can turn in for special prizes. It’s a great way to have fun, learn some new games from our guys if you’ve never played, and all in a low-pressure environment where you can’t lose.

We were so impressed with the organization and how the IBCF team works so hard to pull off such an event, that doesn't happen very easily. We work with a wide range of venues and different organizations, so we see a wide level of ability and to pull off an event of that magnitude is impressive. The Through the Looking Glass Gala not only helps IBCF, but it helps us to push ahead and continue with our mission as well.

Why does Sertoma continue to support IBCF and the students at ISBVI? 

We’re always hoping that a student will continue to improve and gain confidence in who they are and what they can achieve, even if they’ve been handed somewhat of a stacked deck against them. IBCF is a specialist in this area, and so we know the funds that we’re able to generate and turn back around to the school for special projects like the new Sensory Room, has great impact. We have the highest degree of hope that whatever funds are given to an organization, like IBCF, will have the greatest impact on students possible. I encourage all the students to never give up. If they work hard, believe in themselves and continually learn new things throughout their lives, then they’re going to be able to give back to society in an incredibly enthusiastic way.